How different does 2019’s outcome look after this weekend now?
England’s Grand Slam hopes have been dashed in round three for the second year running after one of the best Welsh performances we’ve seen in years.
And Ireland scrape through in Rome by the skin of their teeth against an Italian side who even without their key talisman Sergio Parisse looked deadly throughout, leaving the Irish World Cup favourites tag in doubt.
Scots “not fit to wear the jersey” as Brunel masterminds revival
If I’ve learnt anything from this weekend it’s that predicting a Scotland win isn’t the best of ideas… Despite all the build up to the fixture and all the talk of France being in total disarray, Jacques Brunel rallied his troops, and ground out a performance that reminded us all of just how good France can be. Ramos, Dupont, Itturia, Bamba, all the newest and recent finds were exceptional, and not only that, they caused Scotland some serious headaches on Saturday afternoon. The injury crisis Scotland are going through is like no other, they have an entire team of first choice players injured, and sure they have an incredible squad depth now with a talented team of replacements, but they are missing some of the most colossal figures of Scottish Rugby.
John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson, Finn Russell, Duncan Taylor, Huw Jones, Stuart Hogg. All of these names would be picked by coaches without a moments thought for their talent in a rugby jersey, and if they’d been on that plane to Paris I have a suspicion they might not have been turned over as badly as they were. The only time I felt like Scotland offered anything was at the end of each half, where two opportunistic line outs turned to dust in the first, and replacement scrum-half Ali Price finally dotted down for the Scots. In this tournament though, waiting until the final five of each half to do something isn’t enough, and Townsend was right to lament the Scots for their poor errors and their failure to control the game. Saying that the players weren’t fit for the jersey was a bit exaggerated though.
The fact I’ve read this week that people are saying Vern Cotter should never have left is beyond me. He didn’t exactly fare much better away from Murrayfield, and credit to the French, they were sensational. Ireland and France could put on an absolute classic if both sides can find top form and go for each other like last year. In the meantime, Townsend will want to look away from the idea of a thumping from Wales in two weeks considering the form they’re in. With a bit of luck, some of their regular suspects will come back to rescue Scotland’s already slim title hopes, but the prospect of them winning against this Welsh side that’s tearing up the tournament right now looks pretty dim to say the least. The most embarrassing thing is everyone had written France off before kick off, that’s how much of a sucker punch this defeat is for Scotland.